2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

UPDATED 6/22/18: Added Indiana and Iowa to the table.

There's tons of ACA/healthcare policy stuff going on this week (rightly overshadowed by the grotesque child kidnapping/psychological torture atrocities being committed by the Trump Administration of families asking for political asylum). However, I had/have a funeral and two meetings today, so I only have time for one post.

UPDATE 6/8/18: Welp. Given last night's bombshell development that Donald Trump's Department of Justice has decided to not only abandon doing their jobs by defending the law of the land but to actually actively argue in favor of tearing away the ACA's prohibition of denying coverage for (or charging more for) pre-existing conditions, it seemed appropriate to dust off this entry from over a year ago.

A couple of important caveats: The individual market has shrunk by one or two milion people since a year ago (due in large part to other forms of Trump/GOP sabotage, I should note), so most of the estimates for the last column are likely a bit smaller as well, although those with pre-existing conditions are the least-likely to drop their coverae for that very reason. Also, a good half-dozen Congressional Districts have had special elections over the past year and now have new members of Congress (SC-05, MT-AL, PA-18 and so on) or currently have vacancies not shown below (MI-13, TX-27, etc).

Kentucky's 2019 preliminary Rate Filings have been posted, and they're pretty straightforward: Like this year, there will only be two carriers offering policies on the KY individual market in 2019: Anthem and CareSource, with roughly a 46/54 market share split.

The overall average requested rate increase is around 12.2% between the two. Neither carrier states just how much of their requested increase is due to mandate repeal or #ShortAssPlans (CareSource did list it...but then redacted it from public view). The Urban Institute projected around an 18.7 percentage point impact; 2/3 of that is around 12.5 points, so that's what I'm assuming until further notice.

Assuming that's accurate, that means that if not for the mandate/shortassplan sabotage factors, Kentucky carriers would be keeping unsubsidized 2019 premiums flat year over year (or even dropping them a smidge).

Hmmm...extremely thin detail here, but I'll take what I can get for the moment:

Ohio Health Insurance Exchange 2019

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that every state have an exchange where consumers can buy individual health insurance policies. In Ohio, the federal government runs the health insurance exchange. Ohioans who do not have health insurance through their employer, Medicare or Medicaid may be eligible to purchase coverage through the exchange. Open enrollment for coverage next year (2019) begins November 1, 2018. Below is preliminary data based on the filings submissions of insurers in Ohio. Once filings are approved in late summer/early fall, final information will be posted.

Ohio’s Health Insurance Market (2018–2019)

In 2018, 8 companies sold health insurance products on the exchange in Ohio and 42 counties had just one insurer with an additional 20 counties having only two.

Welp. There you have it. Via Jonathan Oosting of the Detroit News:

Snyder signs 80-hour Medicaid work requirement law

Most adult Medicaid recipients who receive health care insurance through the state’s Healthy Michigan plan will be required to work at least 80 hours per month or risk losing coverage under a new law signed Friday by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

Five years after he led the push to expand Medicaid eligibility under the federal Affordable Care Act, Snyder signed the new work requirements over protests from Democrats and advocacy groups who decried it as a legislative effort to strip health insurance from low-income residents.

...“The original estimates were that 400,000 people without health care would be able to obtain it after the creation of Healthy Michigan, and today more than 670,000 people have coverage. I am committed to ensuring the program stays in place and that Michiganders continue to live healthier lives because of it.”

Thanks to Maanasa Kona of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown for the heads up:

For the first time since 2014, the # enrolled in individual health plans in the first quarter of the calendar year in NJ went down from the previous year. Commissioner Caride blames the current administration's actions. https://t.co/xuuGLQV7BE pic.twitter.com/rGNpfx2IYS

— Maanasa Kona (@MaanasaKona) June 22, 2018

Here's the press release and table:

Health Insurance Enrollment in NJ Individual Market Down 10 Percent in First Quarter of 2018

Reduced Enrollment Demonstrates Importance of Policies Aimed at Stabilizing the Market, Increasing Access to Affordable and Quality Coverage

SEE UPDATE BELOW

WARNING: As far as I can figure, Texas's ACA-compliant individual market totals somewhere around 1.4 million people (Mark Farrah Associates estimated the entire individual market at 1.6 million a little over a year ago; of that I estimate roughly 180,000 were enrolled in grandfathered or transitional plans). The breakout as of today should be roughly 1.1 million on-exchange enrollees and perhaps 300,000 off-exchange.

Unfortunately, while the SERFF database shows 2019 listings for most of the 11 carriers which offer ACA policies in Texas this year, it only actually has the filings posted for 3 of them so far: CHRISTUS, Sendero and FirstCare Health Plans (aka SHA, LLC). Even then, those three carriers hold a pretty small share of the market, totalling just 65,000 enrollees. That means I only have actual 2019 rate data for about 5% of the ACA market available so far.

With this in mind, I need to strongly caution people about reading too much into the 21.6% average rate hike being requested by these three carriers, or even the 13.5% average increase they'd be asking for without the ACA's individual mandate being repealed or Trump's expansion of #ShortAssPlans. These averages could easily be swamped and skewed significantly (higher or lower) when one or more of the Big Kahunas in Texas is plugged in. For instance, last year BCBSTX had around 390,000 enrollees...that's 6 times as many as CHRISTUS, Sendero and FirstCare combined. If BCBS comes in at, say, a 10% rate hike, that would single-handedly lower the weighted average from 21.6% to around 11.7%, and so on.

The Indiana Insurance Dept. has released the preliminary rate requests for 2019 insurance policies on the ACA individual and small group markets.

Like last year, there's only three carriers participating in Indiana's individual market: CareSource and Celtic (aka Ambetter) will again be available both on and off the ACA exchange, while Anthem will only be offering a single Catastrophic plan on the off-exchange market in just five counties:

The overall average rate increase for 2019 Indiana individual marketplace plans is 5.1%. CareSource and Celtic (MHS/Ambetter) have filed to participate in the 2019 Indiana Individual Marketplace. The Department of Insurance anticipates that all 92 counties in Indiana will be covered by one or more insurance company. CareSource plans to cover 79 counties. Celtic (MHS/Ambetter) plans to increase its coverage from 43 counties in 2018 to all 92 counties in 2019.

Anthem has filed to offer a 2019 Off-Marketplace plan in Indiana. This plan is a catastrophic plan and is offered only in Benton, Jasper, Newton, Warren and White Counties.

HHS just blocked us from entering its facility in Homestead, Florida to check on the welfare of the children being held here. They are obviously hiding something, and we are going to get to the bottom of this. pic.twitter.com/q4m6Zd0ck2

— Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) June 19, 2018

An HHS official tells @weijia that there will NOT be special efforts made to reunite children who have already been separated from their families bc of the Zero Tolerance Policy, despite Trumps EO. Process will proceed for minors currently in the unaccompanied children program.

— Jacqueline Alemany (@JaxAlemany) June 20, 2018

My apologies. Between a death in the family and some other personal issues, I'm way behind the eight ball this week. As a result, I'm just now getting around to writing about not one, not two, not three, but FOUR major GOP attacks on the ACA and healthcare in general which either happened or had major developments this week.

Instead of getting even further behind by trying to do a full, detailed take on each of them, I'm going to crib like crazy from other healthcare reporters/articles to cover the gist of each.

3: Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending

via The Hill:

The Senate on Wednesday narrowly rejected President Trump's plan to claw back roughly $15 billion in spending approved by Congress earlier this year.

(Note: It was approved by Republicans in Congress earlier this year.)

In a 48-50 vote, senators failed to discharge the measure from committee. A majority vote was needed.

My apologies. Between a death in the family and some other personal issues, I'm way behind the eight ball this week. As a result, I'm just now getting around to writing about not one, not two, not three, but FOUR major GOP attacks on the ACA and healthcare in general which either happened or had major developments this week.

Instead of getting even further behind by trying to do a full, detailed take on each of them, I'm going to crib like crazy from other healthcare reporters/articles to cover the gist of each.

2: House GOP 2019 budget calls for deep Medicare, Medicaid spending cuts

Big shocker, I know...yeah, that's the actual headline of the Hill article, in which the GOP also proposes simply stripping out all funding for the ACA while they're at it:

Last year, Iowa's already-ugly individual market was rocked further yet by Big Kahuna Wellmark announcing that after finally entering the ACA exchange market in 2017, they were dropping back out again this year, leaving Medica as the only carrier offering ACA-compliant policies throughout the whole state. In response, Medica raised their 2018 ACA rates by a whopping 57% this year. This, in turn, led to the state legislature passing a law which stripped away pretty much any type of restriction or regulation of "Farm Bureau" plans, exacerbating the risk pool problem further yet.

My apologies. Between a death in the family and some other personal issues, I'm way behind the eight ball this week. As a result, I'm just now getting around to writing about not one, not two, not three, but FOUR major GOP attacks on the ACA and healthcare in general which either happened or had major developments this week.

Instead of getting even further behind by trying to do a full, detailed take on each of them, I'm going to crib like crazy from other healthcare reporters/articles to cover the gist of each.

#1: GRAHAM-CASSIDY 2.0 (via ThinkProgress):

Republicans renew attempts to repeal Obamacare

A group of Republicans and Washington D.C. think tanks released a proposal Tuesday that aims to resurrect Obamacare repeal. The consistent chatter around the proposal has drawn ire from the White House and GOP leadership, as the midterms are just months away, and repeal efforts haven’t proved to be winning strategies.

I'm addressing this Open Letter to Florida-based Politico reporter Marc A. Caputo, but the truth is there are hundreds of journalists out there who it could apply to as well. I know parts of it seem like a run-of-the-mill flame war between two people on Twitter, but I think there's a much deeper and more disturbing point here given Caputo's profession and status as a reasonably respected journalist.

Dear Marc:

First, let me say that I've followed your political reporting out of Florida for several years, so I know that you're a skilled, capable journalist.

That actually makes everything else in this letter more disturbing, because it proves that even intelligent, well-educated people can suffer from incredibly dangerous blind spots.

Well this is a nice surprise! Yesterday the Minnesota ACA exchange, MNsure, issued a press release a day ahead of the public posting of requested 2019 individual market insurance rate changes, advising people of the various ways they have to keep their premiums down via ACA tax credits, shopping around and so forth. I was immediately concerned that they might know something I didn't...perhaps they were expecting a batch of double-digit rate hikes as has happened in so many other states the past few years?

Well, today the Minnesota Commerce Dept. did release the preliminary 2019 rate requests, and I'm pleasantly surprised to report that for the second year in a row, Minnesota carriers are actually asking for rate decreases:

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